Creator Spotlight 👾 Toastedlightskin: “As a streamer, you gotta improve all the time.”

Tell us, how did you get into streaming?

It all started last year. I’ve always played a lot of video games. That’s always been kind of like a de-stressor, an escape for me. And my friends know that, so one day I was hanging out with a couple of them and they suggested I do it, since I’m so good at games.

My first reaction was, “Steamer? No way I can’t do that!” (laughs) But they insisted, and I thought I might as well, gonna give it two weeks to see how it feels. I started off with just a PlayStation. Let me tell you this: streaming off of a console is not fun. We don’t get our streams to look really cool, because it comes with a lot of limitations. All I had was the game and my camera on the top right, which I couldn’t even position where I wanted. If my face was covering something in the game, there was nothing I could do.

You know, in those two weeks that I was meeting a lot of people on Twitch. Twitch has its little imperfections here and there, but the discoverability is there for sure. So, I picked the game that really motivated me to stream and then people just started coming. It was so cool! Not even growing the channel part, but meeting new people all the time, who would come and be like “hey man, that was a great kill, I’m following you right now!”. That was such a good feeling for me and then I stuck with it.

And here I am! I made a huge jump. I substitute teach but I also have a lot of technical background. Since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in technology, in the way consoles work and computers run. Once I got the PC (which cost me $2000), I started upgrading my channel to everything that it is now. I’m still working on it every day because as a streamer you gotta improve all the time.

With the PC, my channel became a unique experience, versus something generic it used to be at the start, which was just the game and the camera.

Twitch channel evolution: before v. after

For instance, I could now add notifications that pop up when somebody follows me. There’s another one called ‘email wall’, so whenever you type an emote into my chat it’ll bubble up and float around the screen here and there.

For other streamers, there is a program where by shouting them out, it’ll play a preview of their recent gameplay during my stream. It’s a way to recommend other channels to your viewers.

Having a good PC was a huge next level entry into the streaming world, definitely. But then again like all that stuff isn’t necessary either. There’s people who literally just turn the game on and don’t have to do any of that.

For all the upgrades that you’re mentioning, what is the creative process behind it? Can you add visuals on Twitch itself? Or do you need external software?

The two most common tools among streamers are Streamlabs OBS and just OBS (which I use, it’s free). It starts with a black screen and lets you add video capture. Meaning, the software can capture the whole desktop screen, or just the window that the game is playing on. From there, it’s simple, just like using a PowerPoint: you just add elements on top of it. Like a link, for example. I have this link, whenever somebody redeems X amount of channel points on Twitch, a little talking hand will appear, speak in Japanese and disappear.

OBS work station!

It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is! Once you want to download the programme, it’s really as simple as: recording your gameplay, adding some flavours on top and then just going live! The only problem is that it’s pretty demanding on your PC, which prevents some from using it while they play.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s as simple as pressing a button. That’s the reason why streaming is becoming such a big thing now — it’s intuitive.

It can definitely be a bit of work in the beginning though, because you have to define your aesthetic. How do you want the channel to look? Which audience are you going for? I personally love anime references.

Now, if we just talk about Twitch, they provide smaller tools for people who don’t have access to an advanced PC. They have 2–3 programmes that, as long as you’re viewing it on PC, will show a notification when you get a new follower and let you add some animations. Sadly, it doesn’t work on mobile.

So does everything have to be programmed in advance or you can improvise during the stream?

We want everything to appear spontaneous. If I want to add something in the middle of the stream that I didn’t have before, I can go ahead and do that. Like making an animation play when a viewer donates. I can turn around and type a command in the chat. This is where moderators come in, because the streamer needs be focused on playing the game. So having a moderator take care of animations is very useful. I’ve never used it personally, but there’s also equipment like stream decks that serves the same purpose.

That being said, adding too many elements in real time can mess with the seamlessness of the whole process — you want to make it look like everything’s there already. It appears less professional if you don’t have it set up beforehand. Viewers can be very touchy, as you can imagine.

How big is your community now?

Right now we’re heading towards 400 followers. Lately, the community has been growing every single day! I wake up and I have at least one new follower, which is really really cool! Even though I definitely consider myself a smaller streamer, my average viewership is that of somebody who has 1000 followers, which is interesting. Let me explain.

On Twitch, every time you add a zero to the end of your followers is when you get to the next step. On average, from what I’ve noticed, people with 1000+ followers usually only have about 20–30 live viewers. For people with 2000+ followers, that’s an extra 10 average live viewers — because not everybody is watching everything live. I can average about 20 live viewers at a time, but my offline views are hitting nearly 100 views per video, which is great!

And do you have a lot of activity on Discord as well?

My personal Discord server is just getting started. I’m myself active in 20–30 servers though! when I’m not streaming or working, you’ll find me participating in somebody else’s stream. Thanks to that, I get a lot of support from other streamers.

It has happened several times now that streamers who are bigger than me asked me for help on things, on how to play a certain game and so on. One night, out of nowhere, they can just come and raid you with 15 viewers! (smiles) Streamers are very dependent on each other.

One thing I learned early on: as a streamer, you can’t just do everything yourself.

Wow, so there’s a lot of cooperation! I get a feeling though that some streamers are more individualistic.

Yeah, there’s a bit of everything. We’re a weird bunch. To be able to talk to a screen for an average of 3 hours — for some, it’s actually more like 10 hours at a time — you have to be weird. So weird. (laughs)

How would you describe your community?

My community…I’m so grateful for them, they’re so energetic! When they come in, they come in heavily (laughs). The other day I got another Hype Train on Twitch — that’s when many many viewers are donating and subscribing, all at the same time! You have to understand, that is like 20 minutes straight of people throwing hundreds of bits at you like gifting out subscriptions and so on.

Generally, we have a lot of fun doing random things, joking around, and playing of course. I personally haven’t had any experience where a negative viewer has come in and ruined everything. My moderator (who’s actually my girlfriend IRL!) mostly just animates the stream with commands, so I can focus on playing the game.

That said, the gaming community can be easily toxic. If somebody feels like they lost because of you, they’ll come in and try to sabotage your stream — that’s where moderators must come in. But like I said, for me and my community, I haven’t really had to deal with that. It’s quite the opposite. They’re encouraging and want to do things together.

I guess the community really reflects the streamer in that sense. If you’re nice, they will reciprocate.

Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, streaming really took off as a video game thing. But now there are more and more streams where people are terrible at video games, but they are amazing at life advice. Which is what some viewers like. At the end of the day, the person is still having fun being bad at this game. And because they’re having fun, the community can enjoy it too.

What’s your streaming style then?

I joke around a lot, but I also get into a more serious, tutorial mode, where I will explain things. I have that balance of both.I noticed that my viewers really appreciate that. A lot of the time I join people’s streams after missing the previous one and I don’t know what’s going on. I myself take time to explain where I left off, what’s been happening exactly, what skills they’ll gain by watching a past stream and so on. That is one of the reasons why I get a lot of offline views.

From your experience, has streaming been costly to get into in terms of equipment?

Starting isn’t costly at all. As long as you have something to play on, it’s fine. You may want to get a camera, which is $30- $60. But to start, you don’t even need one. The next step is the costly part — that is, if you want to take it seriously. You go from simply having to press a button and go live to actively growing your channel, competing with streamers who have HD cameras, which cost hundreds of dollars. You have to worry about upgrading your gaming mouse, or getting an external mic for instance, because there are clear advantages to that. You have to consider what people will think of your setup, because having anime stuff in the background may be important for some viewers. I need better lighting sometimes, so I have to buy a ring light. If I was able to have a dual monitor setup, I could consistently have OBS open on the other screen while I stream and experiment more with it. With one monitor I can’t see my chat when I’m playing my game, so I need to use my mobile.

Gaming setup evolution: before v. after

Some of these individual pieces of gear aren’t necessarily costly at all. But when I go back and look at how much money I spent on just my PC alone — it’s a lot. And again, this part is more specific to technology-oriented streamers like me.

But I spent an extra $1300 just upgrading my computer, so that it can handle gaming and streaming simultaneously. In the end, it all adds up. Take Ninja, for instance, on Twitch: for things to look that good on his side, you need a lot of money to back it up.

And in terms of software, do you have everything you need?

Something that was missing until recently is a software for the mundane and tedious task of making clips. That sucked (laughs). In that sense, Powder’s really been a game changer, it made my life so much easier.

I’m getting tons of highlights from it, many of which are really good! I can just download and share them directly on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat).

The fact that it can all be done on mobile helps a lot. I personally haven’t had to go back and make a highlight myself since I started using Powder. I’ve been telling some other streamers lately about the opportunity that you guys presented. Nobody can believe how good it is (laughs)!

It used to be so tedious. I had to go back and watch 3–6 hours of stream, then trim, edit, reformat it for social media. Sometimes I’d post highlights on Twitch, which you can do on the platform itself, but to share it elsewhere you’d have to download the highlight, reformat it for mobile to get the resolution right. It’s a whole process, basically. People I’m competing with spend like 10 hours a week editing their stream, while I may not necessarily have that time, so Power made a huge difference.

I get a feeling you’d love to be streaming full-time. If so, what would it take to get there?

Yeah, that would be so awesome! If I could dedicate all my time into streaming and then still be able to pay my bills and everything like that — that’s all I would do. But first, it’s about making an investment, right? I have to upgrade the gear like I said. I’m consistently networking, too. There’s a reason why every day I wake up, I have a new follower.

It’s about putting myself out there, on Twitch and beyond. I’ve been hearing that discoverability on TikTok is ridiculous — and I have yet to delve into that. That’s a huge stopper for a lot of streamers.

It may be surprising, but a lot of us are introverted by nature, so doing social media for self-promotions may not be intuitive.

What are the sources of revenue you could have as a streamer?

A lot of companies have affiliate programs, where you advertise their product on your channel and people can purchase it with your associate link. A streamer makes a commission off that. I have a few affiliations, but not a major contract yet.

I would love to join an esports team to participate in competitions, as well. Then, obviously, getting a big enough community that can support me through donations. Ideally, I kind of want to be able to get to a point where I wake up, get on my computer, start playing the game, go live and enjoy the time with my viewers. Then combine that with doing competitions. That’s where I personally want to go with it.

That being said, monetization is not the main driving force for me. At the end of the day, the reason why I’m able to stream is because of the viewers: they give me energy. I have a full-time job. I’m tired by the time I get back home, and these interactions with the community truly keep me going.

Looking back, in which way has streaming impacted your life?

Streaming gave my hobby a goal. Me playing video games now goes beyond my personal enjoyment of it. At the end of the day, playing games with someone is always more fun than playing by yourself. Even if you’re the only one playing, you can talk to somebody about it in real time, which makes it a lot more enjoyable. I now always have somebody to play with. And I find such happiness in making people discover new games and learn new skills thanks to my streams. That’s like the coolest thing. So, I’m still enjoying my hobby but now I’m doing it in a way I didn’t think was possible.

To follow Toastedlightskin on Twitch, go here!

To learn more about Powder, visit our website.




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